Announcing Project Spectrum

August 16, 2019 Tom Wyman

When we set out to create SketchUp, we had a pretty good idea of who would use it. Architects, basically. For conceptual design. And we were right -- partly. As it turns out, there were a few uses that caught us by surprise: landscape architecture, video game design, fine arts, civil engineering, wedding cake design, book illustrations, set design, film previsualization, industrial design, urban planning, woodworking, medical instrument design, coin design (one of the "state" quarters), treehouse design... you get the idea.

It looks like it's time to add one more to the list (and this one may be the most fun of all): SketchUp is also an application for kids with autism.

A couple of years ago we learned that SketchUp can be an amazingly powerful tool in the hands of children with autism. Since stumbling across this bit of information, we have worked with parents, educators and kids to learn how SketchUp plays to the visual and spatial strengths often possessed by those on the autism spectrum. Siblings (and SketchUp aficionados) Meg and Casey may have said it best: "SketchUp is a great program and we're glad it exists to open the door into minds full of pictures". Indeed. From the literal to the imaginative, the pictures in these minds are as varied as the minds themselves:


It's been great fun to see how different kids respond to SketchUp. For many, it's a creative outlet and an opportunity to express themselves. For some, it's a source of self-esteem, and for others, it offers all that and a life skill as well. Thanks to the combined efforts of families, schools, our local autism society, the University of Colorado and a dedicated team of Googlers, we are proud to launch Project Spectrum. Our purpose is to connect people on the autism spectrum with free software and learning materials so that they can "open the door into minds full of pictures".

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